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How Habits Help You Reach Your Goals

We have talked a lot about the importance of aligning our goals with our values and with our personal vision or mission. This ensures that our goals are relevant and we can see how they are part of the road map to our success. But we also know that new goals most likely mean change and let’s be honest, change is difficult.

One of the keys to reaching a new goal is to have habits in place that support that goal. If your current behaviors are counter-productive, you'll need to change them, or run the risk of coming up short.

How do habits help you reach your goals?

Suppose your goal is to run a marathon. If you don’t already have the habit of running regularly, you won’t succeed until you adopt that habit. Running regularly is the only way you will build up the strength and endurance needed to complete a marathon.

Developing supportive habits is easier than you think and more powerful than you imagine!

Identify the habits needed to ensure success

Before you create new, positive habits, you must figure out exactly what behaviors will help you reach your goals. For every goal, there are habits that guarantee success. Reflect on your goals and what actions you must take to help bring them about.

What is needed:

  1. Look for daily habits. Habits you practice every day are easier to implement and maintain than those that are less frequent.

  2. Keep it simple. The more complex the task, the less likely you are to stick with it. If you really do need to implement a complex habit, start with a simpler version, then add complexity later.

  3. Be specific. It's not enough to simply say what you're going to do; include the how, when, and where as well. Time is always critical when creating a new habit. Be sure to specify a deadline.

  • So "I'm going to exercise 1 hour per day" is inadequate. "I'm going to swim from 6-7 am, Monday through Friday at the YMCA" is more like it. It has enough detail to be clear about what you want to accomplish, and includes the how, when, and where.

Prepare for Interference

There are going to be challenges and things that may derail your progress. Figure out what they are, ahead of time, so you have a plan to deal with them when they crop up.

For example, if you've decided you're going to eat a healthy breakfast every day, get rid of all the breakfast junk food in your pantry and freezer.

Put in place supporting habits

If one of your new habits is to make it to the gym every morning by 6:00 am, you can develop several supporting behaviors to help you establish this habit:

  • Get out of bed by 5:15 am.

  • In order to get up at 5:15 am each day, you might need an additional habit of always being in bed by 10:00 pm.

  • Pack your gym bag the night before.

These supporting habits are vital to your success.

Enjoy automatic success

Once an action becomes a habit, you do it automatically. You’ll move forward, day after day until you reach your goal.

Just as bad habits can keep you from success, supportive habits can guarantee victory. Consider the habits that support your goals, put them into action every day, and enjoy success!

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